Provo Police Using De-Escalation Training in Tense Situations


Provo police have been thinking about race and de-escalation techniques ever since African-American teen Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri in August, 2014.

Since then, the Provo Police Department has been ahead of the curve training their officers to de-escalate tense situations, especially those involving race.

Their efforts include using a state-of-the-art virtual training simulator all while involving the community.

“We want to keep the officers safe and the community safe and this is a training tool that helps us do that,” says Chief John King, Provo Police Department.

Provo Police Chief John King is talking about the department’s new VirTua Training Simulator, located in a former church in Provo.

It allows officers to use their de-escalation skills in various threatening situations. 

“What this does is allows us to take that same scenario and give it different endings based on our officers response,” says Sergeant Joe Otte, Provo Police Department. “If we can talk to people and get them to calm down, generally we can get to a positive resolution and then avoid use of force because at the end of the day that really is the end goal,” Otte says.
While the simulator provides vital training, it doesn’t train officers on matters of race.
That’s where folks like Dr. Dianne McAdams-Jones step in, leading officers on discussions about race and culture.
“When people don’t talk about subjects, they go away or they go under the run but they still fester, and after awhile like a wound, it festers and then it erupts,” says McAdams-Jones.
McAdams-Jones is on the department’s citizen’s advisory board where she’s been able to develop a strong relationship with police.
“I enjoy working with the police department, and every time I see them I’m happy because I feel like I have a relationship with them. I feel like if they were to pull me over, I would be quite comfortable, I would not be afraid, I can’t say that about the world anymore,” says McAdams-Jones.
She trusts Provo police because of their community involvement.
“Until you get out into the community and get to know those people, you’re going to let the stereotypes and the social narrative rule how you think,” says McAdams-Jones.
McAdams-Jones says simply understanding those of different races can help solve the national problem surrounding police use of force.
“If we focus on that relationship, all our other relationships are going to improve. I think it’s important for us as police departments as public servants to really understand that and make adjustments that are needed,” says Chief King.

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